The Becker Archive contains approximately 650 hitherto unexhibited and undocumented drawings by Joseph Becker and his colleagues, nineteenth-century artists who worked as artist-reporters for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. They observed, drew, and sent back for publication images of the Civil War, the construction of the railroads, the laying of the transatlantic cable in Ireland, the Chinese in the West, the Indian wars, the Chicago fire, and other aspects of nineteenth-century American culture. Civil War Era Drawings from the Becker Collection is the first opportunity for scholars and enthusiasts to see selections from this important and unknown collection and appreciate these national treasures as artworks.
Restoring the Spirit: Celebrating Haitian Art is a landmark survey of Haiti’s complex visual traditions from 1940 to the present, a portrait of its artists’ devotion to creative endeavors in the face of national adversity. Recent generations of self-taught Haitian artists have invented a distinct style of art-making that reveals traditional values and belief systems. Ranging from vibrant paintings and sequin-covered textiles to sculpture created from reused oil drums and aluminum pans and other found materials, the works put vodou bliefs and practices into a contemporary context, document historical and political events and individuals, and provide details from small town or rural life, gatherings, and celebrations that are essential to Haitian culture. Perhaps most interesting is the critical function that many of these works played for the collective imagination: fantastic paintings of hallucinatory landscapes populated by exotic animals and vibrant culture serve as an escape from the reality of Haiti’s environmental and political woes. Image-making acts as both a removal from reality and a proposal for utopia.
Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions provided overall management of the tour and oversight at each venue. Surveying one hundred years of craft making in America, this exhibition showcased more than one hundred eighty of the most important examples of American craft, including works in ceramic, glass, wood, fiber, and metal. This landmark historical survey featured more than two hundred works, spanning a period of nearly two hundred years. Beginning with the Industrial Revolution, the exhibition explores the many cultures and movements that have contributed to the development and refinement of American crafts during the last two centuries. Integrating the various media of handcrafted furniture, ceramics, fiber and textiles, basketry, glass, wood, jewelry and metal, the exhibition represents a broad base of craft-makers including: traditional craft makers, designer craftsmen of the Arts & Crafts Movement, the artists of the WPA programs of the 30s, post World War II studio craft pioneers and contemporary studio craft artists.
This ambitious exhibition presents a chronological survey of the Greenes’ lives and careers over a nearly 90-year period. Representative objects from 30 of the brothers’ commissions, including significant examples from the best-known period of their work between 1906 and 1911, explores important points in the evolution of their unique design vocabulary. In all, the show features approximately 140 objects from the collections of The Huntington, the Gamble House, and other private and institutional lenders. Many of the works on view have never before been seen by the public. Included are examples of beautifully inlaid furniture, artfully executed metalwork, luminous art glass windows and light fixtures, and rare architectural drawings and photographs.
A collaborative art work created by Eugenia Butler Curated by Corazon del Sol
Eugenia P. Butler (1947-2008) was a Los Angeles-based artist who played a formative but often overlooked role in the inception of American Conceptual art. Book of Lies is a collaborative project with works by seventy-six contributing artists. It is curated by Butler’s daughter, Corazon del Sol.
Begun in 1991 and continued until Butler’s death, the project is an examination of how we use “the lie to explore our relationship with the truth.” Butler held three artist dinners, where she asked her guests to consider the questions “What is the lie with which I am most complicit?” and “What is the truth that most feeds my life?” A wide range of artists and poets responded in unique and provocative ways, and a three-volume set of works was created.
Each contributing artist hand-made eighty versions of their artwork, which were then compiled into limited-edition artists’ books. The exhibition showcases these works as framed articles, but their significance is bound to their essentially interactive and tactile nature. The pieces themselves resonate with the time, love, and laborious processes that played a critical role in their creation. The project as a whole serves as a testament to Butler’s vision of “recalibrating” oneself to distinguish the truth within from the lies that surround us.
Each volume is a work of art unto itself that developed from the process of creating it, from the individual works themselves and from the relationships between the parts and the whole. At a certain point a bigger vision broke through – something beyond previous understandings – surpassing the initial ideas to become a singular artwork consisting of discrete and powerful works of art. Its subject matter is truth, lies, and the intimate power of a true work of art. — Eugenia P. Butler
Haute couture found its way into the theatre in 1924, when Sergej Pavlovich Diaghilev (1872-1929) invited Coco Chanel to design the costumes for Le Train Bleu, a new ballet for the legendary Ballets Russes company, based on an ironic story conceived by Cocteau depicting the seaside escapades of upper class Parisians holidaying on the Côte d'Azur; the stage design was by Picasso.
During the twentieth century Italian fashion was also involved in theatre. From the early eighties onwards the most prestigious opera and ballet companies collaborated with the great Italian stylists: Armani, Balestra, Capucci, Coveri, Fendi, Ferretti, Gigli, Marras, Missoni, Prada, Ungaro, Valentino and Versace.
Through sketches, drawings, costume designs and videos of performances, this exhibition examines one of the most glamorous moments of modern international theatre, thus bringing together for the first time the theatrical output of some of the greatest contemporary designers.
"On Reading", a series of photographs made by legendary Hungarian photographer Andre Kertész in Europe, Asia, and the United States over a fifty year period, illustrates the artist's penchant for the poetry and choreography of life in public and also private moments at home, examining the power of reading as a universal pleasure. Balanced between geometric composition and playful observation, it is easy to understand how these glimpses of everyday people and places changed the course of photographic art.
The 104 photographs in the exhibition are drawn from the collection of Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College, Chicago. Approximately half where published in the book On Reading (Grossman, New York) in 1971, and subsequently republished by W. W. Norton in 2008.
Over the past three decades, the art of Cuba has had a remarkable impact on emerging global contemporary art. Drawing on a variety of experimental, conceptual, and postmodern strategies, contemporary Cuban artists have challenged accepted artistic and political discourse not only in their own society but in the international arena, reversing conventional art-world notions of “center” and “periphery” and embodying a provocative, ironic, and omnivorously critical approach.
Cuba Avant-Garde encompasses the full scope of contemporary Cuban art beginning with the crucial period of the early 1980s, which saw the resurgence in artistic production and political openness that marked the birth of “New Cuban Art.”
The exhibition includes significant works by internationally renowned artists such as José Bedia, Antonio Fernandez (Tonel), Los Carpinteros, Tania Bruguera, Carlos Garaicoa, Alexis Leyva (KCHO), Luis Cruz Azaceta, Magdalena Campos Pons and Elsa Mora. The artworks presented in Cuba Avant-Garde encompass a broad range of media: large-format paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures and mixed-media. Collectively, the exhibition highlights the cultural mixing, aesthetic diversity and critical voice that reflect the influence of international contemporary art, but more importantly, emerge from the distinct circumstances of Cuba itself.
Widely regarded as Japan’s greatest living photographer, Eikoh Hosoe explores the strata of the human subconscious through a powerfully evocative use of visual metaphor. META, a retrospective exhibition spanning three decades, presents ten different chapters of Hosoe’s innovative work, charting his remarkable evolution as an artist whose iconoclastic images have consistently questioned the identity of the individual in Japanese society.
Hosoe was 12 years old at the time of the savage destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, events that resulted in unprecedented destruction and the psychological upheaval of a nation. When he began making photographs six years later, Japanese culture was still in the midst of radical change hastened by the omnipresence of the American forces. Finding himself at odds with the restrictive social disciplines of Japanese society, Hosoe sought to express himself through the development of an idiosyncratic photographic style. In the early 1950s, he was a key contributor to a new expressive movement that had emerged as a reaction against the documentary and pictorialist traditions prevalent in Japanese photography at that time. Hosoe and a group of similarly-minded artists were influenced by the American notion that photography could be a medium of personal orientation, and experimented with photographic materials and techniques as a means of achieving greater interpretative ends.
In 1960, Hosoe produced a body of work that shocked Japanese audiences and earned him international attention. Titled Man and Woman, this work graphically and sensually conveys the physical and emotional conflict of the sexes. With powerful erotic gestures, Hosoe depicts scenes of primal gender confrontation. The combined effect of the physicality of the bodies, a disturbing sense of space, and Hosoe’s overt manipulation of the photographic process evokes tensions at the heart of male-female relationships.
Other bodies of work include: Kamaitachi (1965–1968), a meditation on Hosoe’s wartime evacuation from Tokyo to the place of his birth; and Embrace (1969–1970), in which intertwined bodies form sculptures that evoke simultaneous emotions of pleasure and sensuality, pain and aggression.
Organized by the Key West Museum of Art and History at the Custom House, Florida
“I have some pictures tonight, and will have more tomorrow…” —Walker Evans, from a handwritten note to Ernest Hemingway
These cryptic words, from Evans, the great American photographer, to Hemingway, the great American writer, are part of a mystery that is only now coming to light. A friendship between Evans and Hemingway began in Havana in May 1933. The three weeks they spent together in Cuba left a lasting imprint on both men. The events they witnessed, the political upheaval they observed, and their numerous late-night discussions persuasively affected both of their sensibilities and powers of observation for the rest of their lives.
These never-before-exhibited photographs, teamed with newly found Hemingway letters, photographs from family albums, and artifacts from private lenders will form the heart of this new exhibition. Museum visitors will be able to walk into the world of Hemingway and Evans through re-creations of several photographs. The Havana market square, with its shoeshine stands and street vendors, will come vividly to life. Scenes of Key West during the Great Depression will also serve as a backdrop for the words and works of these two influential cultural figures. It was during this period that Hemingway wrote To Have and Have Not, his only full-length novel set in America. Many of Evans’s photographs are directly related to scenes in this book.
This exhibition will help expand our understanding of the relationship between these two men and animate the world in which Evans and Hemingway lived, the events they experienced together, and the impact each had on each other’s creative style.
Curated by Judith Bettelheim Organized by the San Francisco State University Fine Arts Gallery
AFROCUBA: Works on Paper, 1968-2003 is a groundbreaking exhibition of fifty-six prints and drawings by twenty-six artists from Havana and Santiago de Cuba. The artists in this exhibition represent a cross section of Cuban society, and their works exhibit a diverse range of subject matter, styles, and techniques, including lithographs, collographs, woodcuts, screen prints, and ink and crayon drawings. Organized thematically and following a loose chronological order, this exhibition is the first to focus on AfroCuban artists and themes through a historical-thematic lens—and the first time this work has been grouped together in a major exhibition outside of Cuba.
The exhibition features contributions by artist-members of Grupo Antillano, which evolved in the late 1970s and whose work underscores Cuba’s African heritage; artists who were sent to Africa, particularly Angola, either as combatants in revolutionary struggles or as cultural attachés; artists whose imagery is derived from AfroCuban religious expressions, including Santería; as well as artists whose works comment on Cuban politics and race and social relations today.
The exhibition is curated by art historian Judith Bettelheim, Ph.D., author of two books and numerous articles about Caribbean art and culture. Dr. Bettelheim has worked in Cuba since 1985, and for this exhibition she interviewed numerous artists and collected work that attests to these artists’ involvement in AfroCuban culture.
Curated by Linda Benedict-Jones and Barbara Hitchcock
Ansel Adams & Edwin Land: Art, Science, and Invention features pristine, one-of-a-kind black-and-white Polaroid prints made by Adams, lively correspondence between Adams and Land, humorous postcards, and rare examples of Adams’ early commercial work. The exhibition also presents more than 80 prints, including vintage enlargements of Adams’ famed images Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico (1941), andMoon and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park (1960), as well as five photomurals of the American landscape. In all, the works in this show demonstrate the uncommon beauty that can occur through the conjunction of science and art.
Drawn from the Private Collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg Graham Howe, Curator
Edward Weston: Life Work is a 99-image survey of this great American artist, containing an outstanding grouping of vintage prints from all phases of Weston’s five-decade career. Previously unpublished masterpieces are interspersed with well-known signature images. A striking 1909 outdoor Pictorialist study of his wife Flora is perhaps Weston's first nude. A 1907 landscape features a cow skull in the Mojave desert and presages by thirty years his later interest in death in the desert. A smoky view of the Chicago River harbor, from 1916, pays homage to Coburn and Stieglitz, and anticipates the urban modernism famously captured by Armco Steel, Ohio, 1922, which marked Weston’s final break from the confines of Pictorialism and studio work, and the emergence of a sharply focused style.
“To survey chronologically his oeuvre is to witness a purposeful and heroic shelling away of subjective addenda, of all the trimming that, to the average observer, transmutes a photograph into a work of art,” wrote the Mexican painter Jean Charlot in the 1932 monograph. In the mid-1920's Weston unleashed his newly trimmed-down approach in Mexico with Tina Reciting, Heaped Black Ollas, and Excusado. Upon his return to Glendale in 1927, Weston continued to experiment with pure form and disconcerting scale shifts in his long exposures of shells, peppers, mushrooms, radishes and kelp. These studies segue naturally into a remarkable set of sculptural nudes done in 1933 and 1934.
The Happenings of the 1950s began a movement of staged activities in art in which the photograph played an integral role. Performance and conceptual artists in the 1960s and 1970s often orchestrated events specifically for the camera, events as art intended to occur only once at a given moment in time. The resulting images then became documentary records of the events, and in some cases, art objects in themselves.
Curated by Craig Krull, Action/Performance and the Photograph is an ambitious attempt to follow the evolving role of the photograph in these movements. “This photographic perspective,” Krull writes in his introduction to the catalogue for the exhibition, “considers the inherent technical qualities of the camera, its ability to stop or manipulate time, the question of truth vs. fiction, the symbolic or abstract quality of the still image, the act of photography as an action in itself, and the myriad conceptual differences that lie between catching action and orchestrating it for the camera.”
Dream, metaphor, fetishism, nonsense, and play were among the defining characteristics Julien Levy (1906–1981) ascribed to Surrealism; they are also, fittingly, among the marvels of this exhibition, based on Levy’s collection of Surrealist art.
Levy was one of Modernism’s pre-eminent art dealers, operating from his eponymous gallery in New York City. Mentored by the great American dealer and photographer Alfred Stieglitz, Levy opened his gallery to showcase a Surrealist approach to photography. As embraced by Eugène Atget, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray, and Lee Miller, this approach favored psychological complexity over pictorial clarity. Levy’s second “godfather” was the artist Marcel Duchamp, with whom Levy shared a love of gizmos, graphics, and games. Levy was an active participant in the creative lives of the artists he represented, making Surrealist films, composing a Surrealist history, and even initiating a Surrealist “fun house” for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. His most sustained project, however, was amassing a collection of Surrealist art ranging from paintings, photographs, drawings, prints, sculptures, and books to toys, seashells, cabaret posters, and chessboards. As sampled through the singular thread of works on paper, the art in this exhibition attests to Levy’s vigorous appreciation of Surrealism as a whole. A great number of the works in the show were made by artists Levy promoted, including the subjects of the gallery’s first and last shows: Max Ernst in 1931 and Arshile Gorky in 1949. Levy’s collection also prominently featured women, both as artists (Leonora Carrington, Leonora Fini, Mina Loy, for example) and as subjects (the Surrealists fetishized women as muses to all manner of unrestrained activity). One of the most provocative (and entertaining) art movements of the twentieth century, Surrealism sought to depict (and see) reality destabilized, whether through shocking juxtapositions, biomorphic abstractions, theatrical excess, or comic satire—all of which are in evidence here. For Julien Levy, Surrealism was, quite simply, a way of being.
Organized by the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
University of Texas at Austin, Ulrich Keller, Curator
In August of 1936, two staffers from Fortune magazine, writer James Agee (1909–1955) and photographer Walker Evans (1903–1975), made arrangements to stay at the home of an “average white” sharecropper-family in Hale County, Alabama. For the next 21 days, they strove to produce a collaborative work aimed directly at the Great Depression’s social problems, while also pushing the limits of literature and photography. As Agee was keenly aware, the project was, from the start, fraught with ambiguities:
Since the Stone Age, shamans have been the conduits of spiritual power for peoples across Asia, Europe, and America. Shamans, who mediate between earth and the spirit world, have their earliest roots in Northern Siberia, an area considered to be the cradle of shamanism. During a special ritual called a kamlanie (“shaman act”), the shaman enters a state of ecstasy and crosses over into the spirit world. For many tribes, spiritual life centered—and, in many cases, continues to center—around this pivotal figure and this transformative act.
The Shamans: Spirit Guides of Siberia traces the fascinating spiritual and cultural history of the shaman, focusing particularly on the tribes of Northern Siberia. The exhibition draws from The Russian Museum of Ethnography’s collection of art and artifacts from Northern Siberia and the Far East, which includes cultural material, drawings, and photographs from over 20 ethnicities, among them the Evenk, Nanaian, Khanti, Yakut, Khakass, Buryat, and Selkup peoples.
The exhibition presents items such as shamanistic clothing and paraphernalia, which hold unique significance in ritualistic practices; these garments and accessories symbolize the universe and the various spirits that help the shaman communicate with the world of the higher beings. Another area of the exhibition documents the stages of a shaman’s development, often expressed in clothing or objects that mark each level of his advancement. Of special interest is a complete set of a Buryat shaman’s garments.
As captured by Robert Doisneau, Paris at mid-century was a city filled with uninterrupted performance: a humanist theater, equal parts comedy and melodrama, tragedy and farce. One of France’s most respected and prolific reportage photographers, Doisneau (1912–1994) roamed the boulevards, streets, and banlieues (suburban fringes) of his beloved city, chronicling street life with his camera—an extension of his formidable wit. Doisneau’s photographs rendered a vision of human life as a series of fortuitous and droll juxtapositions, the staged and the real commingling as one.
Doisneau photographed the Occupation and Liberation of Paris, and after the war, provided coverage for French and international periodicals: Le Point, Action, Regards, LIFE and Vogue. In 1949, his joyous homage to his roots, La Banlieue de Paris, was published, and subsequently referred to by Doisneau as “his self-portrait.” Scores of his images have endured as testaments to the French way of life. The most well-known example, Le Baiser de l’Hotel de Ville(Kiss at the Hotel de Ville), 1950 has become, perhaps more than any other picture, an icon of young, boisterous love. Robert Doisneau’s Paris presents 117 images from the photographer’s grand humanist oeuvre, in which the city and its people, both entering a new era, dramatize and improvise the life around them.
Organized by the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester Marjorie Searl and Ron Netsky, Curators
rom 1920 to 1924, George Bellows (1882–1925) and his family spent a part of every year in Woodstock, New York, where he was inspired by the mountains, lakes, and fields surrounding the tiny village that was fast becoming a center for landscape artists. Bellows ventured out regularly to paint the local scenery, often doing sketches that he took back to New York with him in the winter to use as studies for finished paintings. Woodstock interiors appear as backdrops for well-known portraits of his family and friends. Photographs of the period show the Bellows family at the center of activities, including the annual bohemian Maverick Festival. Here he found the perfect combination of nature and neighborhood that imbued his work with the maturity and vision that characterize his final five years.
The paintings, sculptures and drawings that compose True Grit: Seven Female Visionaries Before Feminism were made between 1949 and 1976 by seven female artists, all of whom were making radical art before the term “feminism” had even entered the cultural lexicon. To this day, their individual works when seen outside of a group context exude a disciplined purity and aesthetic toughness; when viewed collectively, this compilation of work assumes a remarkable historical and cultural importance. Taken, with a degree of gleeful irony, from the title of a 1969 John Wayne movie, True Grit surveys the varied, independent oeuvres of these seven artists. These women seized on their right to make art, persevered in their field, and in the process influenced and inspired a new generation of artists.
True Grit places in a renewed context the work of this diverse group: Lee Bontecou, an assemblage artist of striking originality; Louise Bourgeois, the pre-eminent post-WWII sculptor who continues to startle and invent; Jay DeFeo, who, working in a broad range of media, explored provocative organic forms; Claire Falkenstein, a crafter of “structural” objects which combined her interests in molecular biology and topology; Nancy Grossman, a collagist known for her leather-covered sculptures and mixed-media totems; Louise Nevelson, whose trademark painted-black wooden constructions suggest existential puzzles; and Nancy Spero, a painter of emotionally-charged, politically-themed tableaus featuring the human figure.
The exhibition assumes nothing about these artists according to their gender. Their idiomatic eccentricities make any single classification of the seven artists difficult and imperfect. It is perhaps this very “ungroupability” that informs the character of the ensemble. What can be said with assurance, however, is that these seven visionaries are among the best of their generation and have created bodies of work that are deep, absorbing, engaging, and lasting.
Fairfield Porter, a 20th century painter who produced Intimist-inspired Realist works in the midst of the Abstract Expressionist movement, was hailed by John Ashbery in 1983 as “perhaps the major artist of this century.”
This exhibition, curated by the author of a seminal biography of Porter, which is being published simultaneously by Yale University Press, presents his paintings in the context of his life as an artist, art critic, poet, and political intellectual, as well as a husband, father, and friend.
Of all American painters of the late-20th century, no one has created more significant images of family and home than Fairfield Porter. This exhibition of 75 works assembles the most revealing images of Porter’s home life, as well as portraits of family and friends—including individuals who have since become the foremost literary, artistic, and intellectual figures of their generation. Letters, drawings, and photography supplement the paintings in the exhibition, giving a greater sense of Porter’s environs, particularly his remarkable home in Southampton, Long Island, and his family’s island, Great Spruce Head, in Maine.
This exhibition project presents photographs and photo media based art work produced by black photographers. During most of photography’s early history, images produced by African Americans were idealized glimpses of family members in romanticized or dramatic settings. Most of these early photographs commemorated a special occasion in the sitter’s life, such as courtship, marriage, birth, death, graduation, confirmation, military service, anniversaries, or some social or political success. Early photographers also depicted genre scenes and landscapes, and created elaborated backdrops for studio portraits. Some owned and operated studios in small towns and major cities, while others worked as itinerants. They photographed the prosperous, laborers, and the poor, and they documented the activities of 19th century abolitionists. Their artistic legacy reflects the predominant styles and various techniques of 19th century American photography, including daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, stereographs, composite printing, and hand-coloring.
For half a century, the intrepid photographers better known by their collective nom de guerre, Magnum, have been, among other things, closely watching the world of cinema—not just on the screen, but on location, around sound stages, and inside dressing rooms, editing rooms, and dark theatres. Founded in 1947, Magnum is a cooperative of nearly sixty photographers, who have worked for virtually every major publication in the world. For the historic Magnum Cinemaexhibition they have sorted through their vast private archives, selecting stacks and stacks of photographs, many of which have never before been published or exhibited publicly. These one-of-a-kind images bear the inimitable Magnum stamp and offer an interwoven narrative that details the world of photography as it documents the world of film.
Curated by Kerry Oliver-Smith Organized by the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida
Vaslav Nijinsky (1889–1950) was one of the most celebrated dancer-choreographers of the twentieth century. A legendary performer with Serge de Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and indisputably the greatest male dancer of his era, he choreographed four great ballets—including Debussy’s L’Après-midi d’un Faune and Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps—and worked closely with Cocteau, Ravel, and Bakst.
The Vaslav Nijinsky: God of Dance exhibition is drawn from the Nijinsky Archives. It is the largest single body of artwork by and about Nijinsky, and the only exhibition of its kind ever assembled for tour. Supported by quotes from the diaries, the over 170 objects construct an intimate portrait of both the performer and the man. Included are photographs, drawings, costumes, documents, letters, and personal effects.
The Vaslav Nijinsky: God of Dance exhibition is drawn from the Nijinsky Archives. It is the largest single body of artwork by and about Nijinsky, and the only exhibition of its kind ever assembled for tour. Supported by quotes from the diaries, the over 170 objects construct an intimate portrait of both the performer and the man. Included are photographs, drawings, costumes, documents, letters, and personal effects.
Also included is the lesser-known body of works on paper created by Nijinsky from 1918 to 1919, works that reveal many of the aesthetic concerns and motifs reflected in his revolutionary approach to dance. The noted art historian Herbert Read wrote in the preface to the catalogue for the 1937 showing of the work in London, “These drawings have a general characteristic which immediately suggests the fully conscious art of Nijinsky—his ballets. Their rhythm is a dancing rhythm.” These compelling works may also give a glimpse into the debilitating mental illness that ended Nijinsky’s dancing career, necessitating an isolation that only increased Nijinsky’s mystique and reputation as a transcendent “god of dance.”
Rodchenko: Modern Photography, Photomontage, and Film makes it clear that Rodchenko’s contribution to photomontage, cinema, and photography continue to be artistically relevant through their unique ability to maximize the graphic impact of all visual experience. Everyday scenes are viewed with dynamic perspectives and viewpoints that utilize abstraction, not to suppress the meanings of reality, but rather to instill life with new possibilities. Original photographic publications and cinematic montages created with avant-garde artists and literary figures, such as filmmaker Dziga Vertov, share this unprecedented exploration of graphic design united with form and line.
Organized by the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery at Reed College
Susan Fillin-Yeh and Leo Rubinfien, Curators
Robert Adams’s thinking about photography includes, but ranges far beyond, aesthetic considerations into the human consequences of environmental degradation, urban sprawl, and public land policy. He is interested in the core of man’s contact with nature and how art and religion have controlled this transaction. In order to follow these philosophical subtexts to Adams’s work, the exhibition is divided into conceptual blocks: Sunlight, Emptiness, Artifact, Solitude, Citizen, Home, Democracy, Wreckage, Flowering, Scintillae, and Civilization. Unlike Adams’ bodies of work that are grouped by geographical region, this exhibition maps the aesthetic and philosophical topographies in this work by drawing upon his entire output and forming it into new chronological and conceptual paths in order to better grasp the artists’ larger intentions.
That jazz, like every form of music, is a visual art should be too obvious to require any reaffirmation. The sight of jazz, or more specifically of jazz performers, sometimes seems virtually inseparable from the sound of the music. Jazz historians have often pointed out, with obvious regret, that only one photograph exists of the near-legendary Buddy Bolden; or that precious little film footage exists on Art Tatum, Charlie Parker and too many other giants who in their day were underappreciated to the point where few photographers or sound-equipped motion picture cameramen took the trouble to preserve them for posterity.
The term “the art of jazz photography” is a misnomer; a better phrase would be “photography devoted to jazz musicians by photographers who love and understand jazz.” That, of course, is one of several ways in which one can characterize William Claxton.
Many of the men and women we find here have long since left us; others are happily still an active part of the scene these days, looking for the most part appreciably different from the way they appeared to Claxton’s cameras two or three decades ago.
Here, then, are the visual experiences of the young photographer to be shared—a lifetime of listening and looking, mirroring the jazz musician’s art in his own.
From the horrific purges of the Stalin era to the time before glasnost when failure to conform could result in loss of employment or imprisonment, Soviet artists have had to struggle at great risk to maintain aesthetic and intellectual freedom. The sweeping cultural reforms presided over by Gorbachev brought an end to decades of censorship, and new intellectual freedoms allowed scholars in and outside of Russia to begin to trace the outlines of a broad category of artistic production known today as nonconformist art. Roughly bounded by the reforms following the death of Stalin in the mid-1950s and a landmark sale at Sotheby’s on July 7, 1988, this period encompasses a vast range of media, styles, and concerns.
Although the term nonconformist is widely used to describe art of the era that rejected political and cultural norms, “nonconformist,” “dissident,” “alternative,” “official”, and “unofficial” all have their place in discussions of the subtle relationship of the artist to the state, to Soviet-era culture, and to other artists. Included are many artists who simply worked on their own outside of the official system, as well as those who were outright political dissidents.
Forbidden Art: The Postwar Russian Avant-Garde is drawn from a highly focused private collection gathered by Yuri Traisman, a Russian émigré who has spent nearly thirty years gathering unofficial as well as émigré art by Russian artists. The range of artists, styles, and movements represented in Forbidden Art offers an extraordinary point of departure for discussions of what is sometimes called the “Second Russian Avant-garde.” Although largely figurative, abstraction, conceptualism, media critiques, and complex forms of realism are revealed as vital pursuits during the period traced by the exhibition. Soviet artists were able to develop avant-garde traditions despite official censorship, and surprising parallels exist between the issues informing the leading practitioners of Western art and those of the most progressive Soviet artists.
Focusing on painting, but also featuring drawings, photographs and sculptures, Forbidden Art includes work by Eric Bulatov, Ilya Kabakov, Grisha Bruskin, Mikhail Chemiakin, Komar and Melamid, Leonid Lamm, Natalia Nesterova, Ernst Neizvestny, Leonid Purygin, Oscar Rabin, Oleg Vasiliev, and many others, providing a crucial interpretive framework by which the exciting field of nonconformist Soviet art can be more thoroughly appreciated and understood.
In 1954, world-renowned Surrealist painter Salvador Dali (1904–1989) and Philippe Halsman (1906–1979), one of the leading portrait photographers of his time, published Dali’s Mustache, a witty and often absurd verbal and photographic exchange between two friends. A scarce cult classic since its original publication, the book was recently reprinted by Flammarion in Paris. Now, organized by the Philippe Halsman Archive in association with Curatorial Assistance, a touring exhibition of Halsman’s original photographs for Dali’s Mustache is available for tour. The exhibition, which includes 32 works, demonstrates the inventiveness and humor that made Halsman one of the most successful celebrity photographers during and after the Second World War. Halsman photographed 101 Life magazine covers—more than any other photographer—and was regularly published in the world’s most popular magazines. Of his own work he once said, “My main goal in portraiture is neither composition, nor play of light, nor showing the subject in front of a meaningful background, nor creation of a new visual image . . . in order to be a portrait the photograph must capture the essence of its subject . . . The photographer probes for the innermost. The lens sees only the surface.”
Using a Leica and his insider advantage as the close friend and confident of Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart, John Swope (1908-1979) documented Hollywood not as an idealized landscape but as a working town full of struggle, hope, and success. He saw the men and women who make the movies as regular folk, be they Fonda, Stewart or the would-be actors and film grips waiting for their unemployment checks. Hollywood was a town in the very real business of creating the unreal “elsewhere.”
Heralded as a masterwork of behind-the-scenes documentary, Camera Over Hollywood was first published by Random House in 1939. Its republication is commemorated with the exhibition tour of this important and until recently forgotten body of work.
Mark Sloan, Roger Manley and Michelle Van Parys, Curators
As the leading chronicler the odd, Robert Ripley, born in Santa Rosa, California in 1893, became a world-renowned personality. The Believe it or Not! phenomenon took hold of the popular imagination between the World Wars and continues to fascinate to this day. There has yet to be an examination of the documentation that Ripley required from those claiming to be bizarre and unique, and this exhibition fills that void.
In 1913, working as a sports cartoonist for the New York Globe, Robert Ripley decided to publish a selection of sports oddities he had collected. His editor persuaded him to change the title from Champs and Chumps to Believe it or Not. Syndicated widely by the early 1920s, Ripley's Believe It or Not! cartoon, expanded to cover much more than sports, would eventually reach an audience of 80 million readers. For over twenty years, Ripley is thought to have received as many as one million letters per year from both fans and self-proclaimed 'wonders.' Organized in celebration of Robert Ripley's centennial, this exhibit is a scholarly overview of the materials Robert Ripley kept to record the human exploits that fascinated his worldwide readership.
By the time of Ripley's death in 1949, his cartoons were printed in 337 newspapers across the world, and translated into more than seventeen languages. The Ripley 'Odditorium' which began as a sideshow at the 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair, paved the road for a weekly radio show and eventually a television series.
Organized by the Henry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin
As the creator of the classic children’s tale The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland, known around the world for generations, Lewis Carroll has a permanent place in literary history. Less well-known today are his achievements as a prolific photographer, published mathematician and logician, game inventor, accomplished draftsman, and magazine editor, among other diverse pursuits. Carroll, the pseudonym of the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, led an exuberant creative life that spanned many subjects and artistic forms. For the first time, and with unprecedented depth, this exhibition assembles materials from across a range of media to illustrate the profundity of one man’s engagement with the world both imaginary and real.
In the last decade, particularly in temperate Southern California, the presence of an ever-increasing homeless population has become an undeniable fact of social life. Although estimates vary, thousands of homeless men, women, and children reside in the Los Angeles region. In the best tradition of documentary photography, Anthony Hernandez set out to record the hidden dwelling places of this marginalized population, which he found in vacant lots, under freeways, and in scores of abandoned sections of the city.
Czechoslovakia’s 1989 Velvet Revolution brought an end to four decades of Communist rule, attracting a flood of tourists from around the world—7 million in 1996—and sparking renewed interest in the country’s rich cultural heritage. Closer to Paris than to Moscow, the city of Prague and the people of the Czech lands share Western religious and cultural traditions. That tradition was first broken by Nazi domination in 1938, and then by the imposition of Communist rule in 1948. But in the early years of the century and between the wars, Czech artists were passionate participants and innovators in the movements that transformed the art of the Western world.
The fall of Communist rule in the former Eastern Bloc countries gave historians the freedom to explore the development of modern art more comprehensively. Underknown artists and important regional movements are being examined with fresh eyes and a desire to understand their rightful place in art history. Czech Avant-Garde: Reflections on European Art and Photography in Book Design, 1922–1938 demonstrates the brilliance of Czech graphic design, illustration, photography, and photomontage between the wars, a period that saw a flowering of Czech culture parallel to that of the Weimar Republic. Comprised of approximately 800 books and journals from the collection of Czech scholar and author Zdenek Primus, the exhibition highlights the work of several recognized masters of Czech book design, including Karel Teige, Jindrich Styrsky, Toyen, Ladislav Sutnar, Vít Obrtel, Zdenek Rossmann, and Frantisek Muzika, along with many previously unknown artists.
The Primus Collection is the largest of its kind in the world, encompassing the complete works of Czech avant-garde book production. Most of the artists represented in the collection were members of the avant-garde artists’ union (Devetsíl) from 1928 to 1931, or participated in the Surrealist Group from 1931 to 1938.
The first in a series of exhibitions aimed at rediscovering the work of this respected American modernist photographer, Brett Westonin New York is a window into this brilliant artist’s wartime imagery from late 1943 to 1945. Drafted into the United States Army, Weston found himself stationed on Long Island under the command of a sympathetic ex-FSA photographer, Arthur Rothstein, who charged him with photographing New York City. After completing his assignments, Weston was free to explore the city’s endless visual resources on his own, and the photographs made during this fortuitous period remain fresh and revealing documents.
Kim Sichel, Curator, Organized by the Boston University Art Gallery
Nineteenth-century American landscape photography has long been studied by cultural historians, who view the images as historical documents, and by connoisseurs, who revere the best images as art objects. Mapping the West balances these two approaches by placing the photographs in their cultural context as riveting images made by individuals within a network of patrons, use patterns, and viewers.
The enigmatic photographer Clarence John Laughlin (1905–85), labeled a surrealist, romantic, modernist, postmodernist, and/or fantasist by successive commentators, is indeed famously difficult to categorize. Nearly two dozen distinct bodies of work exist among the more than 17,000 pictures he created between 1930 and 1965. Drawn from the collection of the Historic New Orleans Collection, Haunter of Ruins presents an eclectic selection of the decaying monuments and Southern landscapes that made the photographer famous, along with a number of mysterious still lifes, portraits, and cemetery views that reveal the photographer’s decidedly Gothic sensibility.
Driven to extend “the individual object into a larger and more significant reality,” Laughlin, with the help of a profound imagination and razor-sharp intelligence, transformed the relatively banal features of the landscape into symbols that lead from the prosaic to the sublime.
Interpretive texts, written and rewritten by the artist himself, accompany the exhibition and provide valuable information about Laughlin’s own continuously evolving view of his work. The interrelationships between image and text, fact and metaphor fascinated Laughlin throughout his life and charge his photographs with a peculiar tension. A complicated dance between viewer as participant in the image and the will of the photographer is played out in Laughlin’s photographs, highlighting a contest of meaning that has occupied discussions of art in the last several years.
James Rosenquist: Time Dust, Complete Graphics 1962–1992 is the first comprehensive retrospective documenting the renowned Pop artist’s thirty-year career as one of America’s most innovative printmakers. Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the exhibition was curated by Constance W. Glenn, director of the University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach and is being circulated by Curatorial Assistance, Los Angeles. Glenn’s 200-page, full-color monograph and catalogue raisonné, published by Rizzoli New York will accompany the exhibit.
Without question, Robert Frank’s The Americans is one of the most influential series of photographs of the postwar era. Not since the book’s publication in the United States in 1959 has there been an opportunity to view these famous photographs in a museum setting in their original sequence. This exhibition is assembled from the last remaining complete set of prints from The Americans, acquired from the artist. The exhibition also includes original editions of the book (first published in France in 1958 as Les Americains), as well as other printed ephemera documenting the history and impact of the work from its creation in the mid-50s to the present. The exhibition tour of Robert Frank: The Americanscoincides with the publication of a new edition of The Americans. Long out of print, this book has been created under the direct supervision of the artist. This tour presents an opportunity to introduce Robert Frank’s seminal work to a new generation of Americans.
In the years since its founding in 1966, Gemini G.E.L. has established itself as one of the most highly regarded and influential printmaking workshops in the country. The Gemini G.E.L. studio in Los Angeles has been at the center of the printmaking renaissance that began in the mid-60s, providing an atmosphere of profound creative and experimental freedom that has led to brilliant collaborations between master printers and prominent artists, and to the development of many new printmaking technologies.
Both Life and Art takes its title from Robert Rauschenberg's well-known statement that he operates in the gap between art and life. Through its long history, Gemini has sought to bridge the gap between art and life by maintaining a working environment famous for its open spirit and uncompromising technical achievements. In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Gemini invited many of the well-known artists who had produced works at the workshop to select from the resulting print suites.
Catalan artists Joan Fontcuberta and Pere Formiguera purport to have uncovered the archives of the brilliant, if obscure, German zoologist, Dr. Peter Ameisenhaufen. Between 1933 and 1950, Dr. Ameisenhaufen devoted himself to the study of little known hybrid creatures. His detailed scientific field observations are supported by extensive documentation, including photographs, journal notes, drawings, x-rays, audiotapes, and artifacts, all of which leave little doubt about the significance of the evidence presented.
In argument to Darwin’s theories we see Micostrium Vulgaris, a swamp dwelling, clam-like creature with protruding seemingly human arms. It uses its opposing grip to wield sticks by which it clubs its prey to death. The Cercopithecus lcarocornu, or winged unicorn monkey, attacks in air and spears its prey on its horn. The Solenoglypha Polipodida makes evident a u-turn in evolution between the bird and the reptile--this snake-like creature supports six pair of webbed duck-like feet.
This collaboration between Fontcuberta, who made the photographs and Formiguera, who was responsible for the pseudo-scientific note cards, drawings, maps, audiotapes, and specimens, is a photo-conceptual narrative work, convincing in every detail. Fauna directly questions issues of authenticity, appropriation and simulation but implies broader concerns of historicity, revisionism, and the notion of scientific objectivity. Dr. Ameisenhaufen’s heritage and supposed era impugns Hilter’s theories of racial purity and also those tenets of the modern church and others who still refuse to acknowledge Darwin.